• Amnesty office begs militants to come out of creeks, embrace programme
By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has said it is not true that the federal government is working against the people of the Niger Delta region.
He also said the dialogue between the federal government and the people of the region to find lasting solutions to the lingering violence and pipeline vandalism in the region was on-going.
The minister made the clarification at the weekend in an interview at the end of the 2016 convocation ceremony of the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Effurun, Delta State.
He said the president was very supportive of the project of ensuring that government reached an agreement with the people through dialogue by ensuring that the old model which failed was restructured.
“The dialogue with the militants has not collapsed, I have laid that process and the president is very supporting of that process.
“But what the president does not want to do is to put in place same model that failed after four months and militants are back to the creeks.
“We are looking at a long term model and I have presented to Mr. President a road-map and it encompasses short, long term solutions, engagement and inclusiveness of the communities.
“We absolutely believe that the Niger Delta is key to the country, the people have contributed so much in very many ways but the society has failed them
“And I use the word, society, not necessarily government because if you look at what has been provided over the years, it’s a lot and some of them have not got it right for certain reasons like corruption at different levels.
“We need to begin to look on how these benefits will get to them; so, let everybody be calm, as destruction doesn’t lead you anywhere.
“I am from here and every money that the state loses because of militancy is lack of development in the state.
“I went to the creeks and I talked with some of the militants and we dialogued and some of the results you are seeing today are the results of those dialogues.
“But I do agree that we must have a robust, permanent, aggressive, inclusive dialogue on the table,” he said.
Kachikwu, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said PTI and its management team were the right answer to bridging the gap in producing the local manpower in the oil and gas industry.
He said government would do all it could to expand the role of PTI in providing needed facilities in the sector as a means of cutting cost in the sector.
The minister said Nigeria imported fuel from any country, including Ghana, to meet its daily needs, adding that it was cheaper to import from closer countries.
“But the reality is that the quantity we import from Ghana is small, the closer they are around us, the cheaper, so we mop everything around us before we look outside.
“But we are the one powering Ghana, all the gas we produce is used in Ghana but we are reengineering our facilities and soon we shall take over the production of petroleum products,” Kachikwu
He said the government was presently looking on how to cut cost, find other financing models and improve infrastructure in the oil and refining sector to produce for domestic consumption.
The minister said the hard times in the country were temporary and appealed for understanding of Nigerians.
He, however, said solutions to the present challenges could take some time.
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brigadier-General, Paul Boroh (rtd), has appealed to members of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and other militants in the region to leave the creeks and enlist in the Amnesty programme for a better future.
Boroh spoke in Abuja while welcoming four ex-agitators from the region who were successfully trained in electrical transformer repairs, maintenance and establishment.
They were trained by Brainbox Matrix Services Limited, a vendor to the amnesty office.
The Special Adviser, who could not hide his excitement seeing the former freedom fighters become qualified electrical engineers, stated that the intention of President Muhammadu Buhari was to stabilise the Niger Delta region through human capacity development as well as infrastructural development.
He said: “First, I appreciate the president for sustaining this programme because if he had not given us the go ahead to continue the training, it would have been difficult for us to achieve this great feat today.
“You can imagine a group of persons who have transformed from militancy to be electrical engineers, obviously I’m very proud of it because it has been a success story. And my appreciation goes to the president who is determined and committed in stabilising the Niger Delta region through human capacity development as well as infrastructural development.
“In this case it’s two in one, the ex-agitators, 23 of them have developed their human capacity in terms of skills acquisition in transformer maintenance and establishment. This has transformed these persons from who they were to the present as well as the refurbishment of transformers which will now supply power to the environment where they are deployed.
“For those still in the creeks, this is a challenge. It is an opening, a wider platform for them to emulate and embrace so that their capacity will also be developed, instead of wasting the human resource elements in them. This means opportunities are open to them whether they are agitators or not.”
Asked if the programme would end by next year, Boroh said the exit strategy of the programme had the trappings of continuity to ensure that government achieved its objectives.
“The exit strategy of the presidential Amnesty programme, has the connotation of adequate requirements to ensure continuity. I’m happy the president has bought into the development of the region by sustaining the programme.